The American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus), occasionally affectionately called the hop toad, is one of the most common species of toads in North America. Each of its three subspecies are commonly found in the prairies and wetlands in the Northeastern quadrant of the United States and Canada.
Lake Wingra, a perfectly damp environment for the American Toad, is abundant with toad and frog species as its serves as an ideal breeding ground. As one of the first major bodies of water to shed its layer of ice in the spring, Lake Wingra provides the proper environment for tadpoles both nutritionally and spatially. In result, young tadpoles thrive off of the lake’s early algae blooms and shallow weeds. Tadpoles can typically be found in
shallow lagoons and reside in the weeds. Because of this, weed clearing is a major threat to the tadpoles’ well being. Wisconsin wildlife services and personal attempt to adhere to this by scheduling weed clearing around peak time periods in the toad’s lifecycle.
Once grown American toads can range from 2-4 inches in size and are typically a reddish-brown color. To achieve this size, adults consume large quantities of insects, worms, snails, and even small spiders. Lifespans of the American Toad vary. However, in proper environments, males may live up to 30 years.
Have You Ever Heard the American Toad?
The male American Toad has a shrill pitch and may last up to 30 seconds.
Learn more about the American toad and listen to its call:
- Toads are usually nocturnal
- Contrary to its nickname, the American Toad is a slow, casual hopper and, instead of its speed, relies on a bufotoxin, a mild poison produced by the toad’s parotoid glands, on the top of its skin for protection against predators. The toxin is not dangerous to humans, but may cause a small rash.
Written by Patrick Ross. Patrick is a Badger Volunteer helping the Friends of Lake Wingra this spring He is studying civil engineering and loves to run, ski, and camp.
Image from Wisconsin DNR, Taken by Rori Paloski
Image from Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, American Toad Webpage